Reader’s letter: “Where are you from?” is a loaded question

Reader’s letter: “Where are you from?” is a loaded question

Reading the transcript from Buckingham Palace where Ngozi Fulani, a domestic abuse charity founder was greeted by Lady Susan Hussey was uncomfortable, but I’m sure not as shocking as it was to experience in person.

For me it wasn’t that Lady Hussey asked the question “Where are you from?”, it was that she refused to accept the answer, no matter how many time is was given.

“I’m born here and I’m British,” seemed to fall on deaf ears. The relentless, persistent questioning showed that she clearly just couldn’t accept that somebody who looks like Ngozi, was in fact British.

“When did you first come here?” she went on (after being told that she was born here). Then “Where do your people come from” Lady Hussey continued. Your people? Really? Your people?

Lady Susan Hussey is  (or was) a person in public office, somebody whose job it is to represent Britain, in a incredibly privileged position. Did she really think that this was an appropriate way to greet someone?

Reading people’s comments trying to justify it ranges from “well Lady Hussey is a bit old”, to “well Ngozi was wearing a animal print dress”. I’m not even entirely sure what that’s meant to actually mean. Does what someone is wearing mean they make themselves a target for racism? Like women who wear short skirts being blamed if they’re sexually assaulted?

Yes she is 83, but made these comments now, not 83 years ago. And it’s incredibly ageist to assume that everyone over a certain age is racist.

Lady Hussey has now resigned and apologised for her comments and hopefully the palace will review its staff training and work harder to make sure that visitors are greeted in a more appropriate manner.

The question “so where are you from?” is a loaded one. Personally I think there is nothing wrong with asking it. You just have to learn to accept the answer. If you can’t accept it, perhaps you really need to think about why are you asking the question in the first place. What you are really trying to work out?

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